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Election Protection Alert: Voting Trouble In Pinellas County, Florida

Photo courtesy of Adonis Hunter

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of robocalls were sent out from the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office this morning instructing voters that they could vote tomorrow. After about 30 minutes of the calls going out, they were stopped and the elections office issued a statement saying that the calls were inaccurate.

The office sent out calls on Monday reminding voters who had requested mail-in ballots that had not yet submitted them that they had to submit them by 7 p.m. "tomorrow," which meant Tuesday, Election Day. But about 120,000 of the automated calls had not gone out yesterday and were still in the system. At 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, they started going out with the "you can vote tomorrow" message included and it took about half an hour before the problem was discovered by county officials and the calls were stopped. They said they couldn't tell how many of the remaining calls went out, but it was far short of the total number.

Pinellas County is the sixth largest in the state and is part of the Tampa Bay area, including the cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

In a separate incident, 30 valid voters were apparently turned away from a polling location in the same county:

About 30 people trying to cast a ballot at 501 1st Ave., North, in downtown St. Petersburg, were refused by poll workers who misunderstood the state requirement for identification, said Alma Gonzalez, director of voter protection for the Florida AFL-CIO. Some voters were refused to cast a ballot, others were told they could vote by provisional ballot, which has a higher rejection rate.

Poll workers insisted that the residents have a single form of identification that included a photograph and a signature, such as a driver’s license, Gonzalez said. State law requires only that voters present a photo and a signature, which could be on separate forms of identification—such as a student ID with photo and a Social Security card with a signature.

Pinellas County officials stated in a press release that no voters were turned away.

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